On YouTube and other sources like Twitch and Ustream, gamers are filming themselves playing games and commenting on them without a script among much more, gaining thousands, and in some cases millions of subscribers in the process. In her latest entry in Loading…New Game, Christy takes a look at what all the fuss is about.
You’ve heard of video bloggers (vloggers), I assume. They’ve had a pretty mixed press in their time. Respected newspapers shake their heads at young people these days who dare to reap ad revenue by talking into a camera. Contemporaries call this the future of media, defending this ‘personality business’ dominating YouTube.
Gaming channels are another major aspect of YouTube. The content is usually made up of several types of series: game reviews, tutorials, informative videos such as talking about updates to games, podcasts and – a major part of their content – ‘Let’s Play’ series. ‘Let’s Plays’ (aka walkthroughs) are very simple – the gamer plays the game, records the footage, and uploads it for others to watch, with or without commentary.
Initially, this confused me. Why on earth would you want to watch someone else play video games? Especially when the videos are so long? The unspoken rule of vloggers is that a video must be three to four minutes long, whilst gaming videos average on ten to thirty minutes – although it’s not uncommon for some to go on for an hour or more. That’s a lot of time.
Some time ago, I was shown Yogscast Lewis and Simon and their first video in their Minecraft Let’s Play series – and it’s pretty funny. It’s entertaining to see people play games, laugh about it and enjoy themselves. It’s not all about muttered commentaries in the background of Call of Duty killstreak videos.
It’s just like watching TV really. I went on to watch a few Let’s Plays from other channels as I didn’t own the game, didn’t have the time or simply didn’t want to (I had a go at Limbo and it terrified me). I still wanted to see the story and experience the game somehow, so these videos were perfect for that purpose. Others might watch it because they like the personality of the Youtuber behind it. Personally, I found it reminded me of my childhood, when I would watch my big brother play video games.
You can roll your eyes and think this is all very sad – but these gaming channels are HUGE. The aforementioned video currently has over 15 million views. Currently, PewDiePie has about 32 million subscribers, with other big names like Captain Sparklez at 8 million subscribers and TotalBiscuit at over 1.8 million subscribers. TotalBiscuit is a personal favourite of mine – I love to hear this wonderfully honest and blunt British man talking about games.
Gaming videos feel like a more honest form of YouTube video making. Vloggers almost always work from a script. The end result may sound quite smooth, but what they say has always been planned out. The jump cuts and editing, coupled with dressing in an online persona and a rehearsed air, jars with the naturalism they’re trying to convey. It’s not a bad thing to have an online personality, or to polish up videos.
Obviously, gaming YouTubers can have an online persona as well, but their videos feel different because it’s one take. You set up the game and you record, and afterwards you put the video up, however it went. You can’t work with a script for playthroughs, and it’s not the standard to spend ages editing such videos – generally the most edited gaming video you’re likely to find is a highlights reel. These videos just feel more real.
Anyway, numbers and popularity aren’t there to justify their careers to sceptics. People are watching, engaging with and enjoying these gaming channels – and that’s all that really matters.
Here are the YouTube gaming channels and series Christy recommends:
What are your favourite YouTube gaming channels? Do you prefer Let’s Plays, formal reviews or a bit of everything? Let us know in the comments below or by email at email@example.com. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Next week, Christy discovers the world of eSports tournaments.bookmark me